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How to optimize your exercise selection from the gang of nine - Part 2

Some trainees will never be able to perform the back squat well. For example, a tall man with, proportionately speaking, long legs and thighs, and a short torso, will always struggle in the back squat, and to such a degree that he may never obtain benefits from the exercise, but run a high risk of injury. He should find alternative exercises.

Leverages, the squat, and the deadlift

How well you squat or deadlift is heavily affected by your leverages — your relative torso, thigh, and leg lengths, and relative femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone) lengths. And there are other important structural factors, including muscle insertion points (that vary from person to person, to some degree), which influence squatting and deadlifting efficiency.

Although they may train both exercises with equal dedication, some trainees will back squat more than they deadlift, others will deadlift more than they squat, while others will lift similar weights in both.

Trainees who are built well for the squat tend to have legs and thighs of average or shorter-than-average length relative to their height. But trainees who are built well for the squat often struggle in the deadlift, relatively speaking, especially if they have short arms and forearms.

Short legs and thighs, together with a long torso, may not be well suited to conventional deadlifting. But long legs and thighs can also inhibit deadlifting because, when the knees are bent, the knees can get in the way of a straight bar, and compromise technique. Short legs and thighs may be fine for the deadlift, however, depending on the lengths of the torso, forearms and arms, and other structural factors. And forearm and arm lengths by themselves are also influential in the deadlift — long ones favor the exercise.

The relative lengths of legs, thighs, torso, forearms and arms affect leverages, which in turn affect deadlifting ability.

Don't obsess over your structure as it affects the squat and the deadlift, but be aware of the general relationship. Provided you can squat and deadlift safely, train them hard and with gradually ever-greater poundages.

A few trainees have ideal physical structures for the squat, and the potential to build up to using astonishing weights relative to their bodyweight. But in some cases they don't have the potential for building big muscles, so they develop great squatting strength but at a low bodyweight. Some others have excellent physical structures for the squat and the potential for building big muscles, so their squatting produces astonishing muscular gains.

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